KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!—Spock. Possibly the worst line in the movie.
So let me start off by saying that I hated the first Star Trek reboot. As a life-long Trekkie I thought it was terrible. Knowing this, I decided to give Star Trek Into Darkness a chance by not viewing it as a Star Trekmovie, but just as a science fiction movie…sadly, even this attitude failed due to the fact that this movie is a complete and total waste of film. Between the bad acting, the unspeakably weak plot and dialogue, barely competent directing, a knowledge of science that makes The Core or The Day After Tomorrow look like scientific textbooks, and a whining liberal mentality throughout, this movie was just unspeakably bad.
I give this movie an F. Minus. You couldn’t pay me to watch it again. Do not waste your money. Unless, maybe, it’s a Mystery Science 3000 rendition.
But since you probably want more than that here is my spoiler heavy breakdown of why this movie is a stinking pile of Klingon Targ droppings. I will break it into three categories: Why this is a bad film, why this is terrible science fiction, why this is abomination to all that is Star Trek.
Why is it a bad film?
Well first off the movie should be called Star Trek Into Darkness starring LENS FLARE. Lots of lens flares. Seriously you might want to bring sunglasses. I really don’t understand what is going on here…J.J. Abrahms is the genius between several wonderful TV shows and the last two Mission Impossible movies. He clearly knows how to direct…and yet he seems to forget how to do it when he steps onto the Star Trekset, preferring to blind you with endlessly pointless lens flares. Also I don’t get the title, at all. Between the lens flares and pointless explosions I didn’t see much darkness. Maybe the title is a reference to the brilliance of the writing.
Okay so let’s talk about the writing. The movie starts with Chris Pine playing Jim Kirk who, as we saw in the last movie, thought he was James Dean (the rebel without a clue), and he’s still that, but now he’s Chris Pine playing James Kirk who thinks he’s James Dean who thinks he’s Indiana Jones. Yes, the movie starts with Kirk running from a bunch of natives for stealing an artifact from them (like the beginning of Raiders)….thankfully the movies doesn’t end like Raiders with a highly dangerous and ancient artifact being locked away in a nameless vault for possible future use…oh wait that’s exactly how it ends. Seriously, the last scene is Khan and his fellow superhumans locked in cryogenic tubes and being locked away in a vault like they’re the Ark of Covenant.
Then after that bizarre teaser with Indy, we have the first act. Where Kirk loses his command, loses Spock, gets his command back, and gets Spock back. 30 minutes of film that did nothing. That’s not completely true. It showed us Kirk in a ménage a trios with some cat like aliens and still as much of a drunken loser as he was in the first film. There is a difference between being a ladies man who can’t make a commitment because of the love of his ship and duty (the original Kirk takes this characteristic from the character Horatio Hornblower whom Roddenberry based him on) and being a manwhore who sleeps with anything with a pulse. One makes for a conflicted and flawed, but ultimately human, hero, one makes for a shallow jackass. Guess which one I prefer and which one apparently J.J. prefers.
The rest of the plot is filled with scenes that seem forced and rather unnecessary. But why all these scenes? So we have the villainous Admiral who only wants to start a “preemptive” (their word, not mine) war, make statements like we need to “protect our way of life” and a lot of other phrases that seemed ham-fistedly lifted from Bush speeches. That’s right this whole movie was a metaphor saying that any attempt to protect your nation is only done by a warmonger who will willingly ally themselves with genocidal maniacs to win. Yes, that doesn’t come off the least bit naively leftist, not at all. And who is the good little empire that we are so heartless for wanting to start a war with? The Klingon Empire. Originally conceived in the 1960’s show as a stand in for the Soviet Union (there’s even an episode where the Klingon Empire and Starfleet fight a Vietnam style proxy war) but then again when The Next Generation rolled around the entire race got a complete makeover and became a warrior race hell-bent on an insane sense of honor, and will kill for honor (honor killings?), will ignore mass corruption in their own governments while chiding others on the corruption in their governments, and of course fanatically follow a warrior prophet who began his career by slaughtering all who opposed him (not the intention of the TNG writers, but the parallels are there). Yeah, I can’t see how either of those interpretations of Klingons could be justifiably viewed as a threat. To view that as a threat can only be the work of an evil, evil mind. Umm…no. I know most people nowadays grew up with The Next Generation and think of Klingons as this noble warrior race (often, though erroneously, compared to the noble American Indian Warriors…I don’t get it personally, but I have seen the comparison made over and
over again) but the Klingon were originally the Soviets of space, a major threat to galactic security, and even after their makeover a still fairly bloodthirsty bunch (see drinking happily over millions of dead bodies at the end of DS9). It would be legitimate to see them as threat…just as it is legitimate in the real world to see a culture hell-bent on the destruction of all Western Civilization also as a threat. But this is a movie where a man commits an act of terrorism and I dare you to find one character use the term “terrorism” or “terrorist” or any variant there of. Also they constantly complain about the idea of turning Starfleet into a military war power…um…I thought Starfleet was the military of the Federation. Heaven forbid we should use our military for military purposes. (I weep for when these losers meet up with the Borg, it will be a very short battle.)
This all leads up to what should be a moving scene where Kirk gives his life to save the ship (like Spock gave his life in Wrath of Khan) ending with a scene between Kirk and Spock between glass. It’s pretty much ripped off from Wrath of Khan, almost shot for shot and line for line. If the best you can do is only write a poor copy, don’t make a movie. But don’t worry the writers put in the most contrived deus ex machina I have ever seen to make sure nobody really dies.
I could go on with all the plot points (Uhura being shown as shallow for having a very stereotypical girly talk about relationships before going into battle, Carol Marcus being shown in her underwear for no conceivable reason, Bone’s dialogue being nothing but folksy metaphors, the fact we avoid any of the emotional trauma by just jumping ahead a year…) but I want to get to some of the other reasons this movie is terrible.
This is bad science fiction.
Good science fiction should keep you emotionally involved. All good literature should…but science fiction has to do it because it has to keep your suspension of disbelief going so you don’t notice how many laws of science are being broken. Let’s be honest here, just about every action movie since1980 has violated the laws of physics, but in good movies we don’t notice this until the third or fourth time around, this movie fails on every level.
Let’s start with the laws of gravity. Near the end the Enterprise is dragged into Earth’s atmosphere, falling, and has it’s gravity system knocked out. Now for anyone in any other ship in the entire universe, being in a ship in free fall would make everything in the ship weightless and floating. But not the Enterprise. In this wacky ship being in free fall just makes the direction of gravity change without reason. Also the ship that was closer to Earth and didn’t have power for at least 20 minutes didn’t fall into Earth’s gravity pull. This is worse than in the first movie the writers thinking black holes and wormholes are the same thing.
Also I’m pretty sure explosive decompression doesn’t shoot you out like a bullet going mach 10.
Also cool that while gravity went out, the force fields holding in the air from you Swiss cheesed ship.
Then let’s take a look at biology. If radiation is high enough to kill you in minutes, I don’t care what magical potion you’ve got, the victim’s internal organs (especially his brain) have cooked, and most likely liquefied. Best case scenario is that all synapses in the brain have been destroyed and magic serum is not going to restore them in the right order.
Chemistry. I don’t care what it’s made of there is no metal, even theoretically, that will explode with the force of multiple nuclear warheads when you drop it in a glass of water. Chemical bonds don’t hold that much energy.
More physics. The shape of the Enterprise is not aerodynamic in the least. Especially after taking a beating, I doubt it would stand up under the stress of the force needed to get out of Earth’s gravity and back into space.
But it’s not only science this movie ignores. While throwing in a thousand corny references to the old shows, they also managed to violate just about every item of Star Trek cannon they didn’t rape in the first film…
The reasons why this is an abomination to Star Trek.
First. You can’t have a Klingon Neutral Zone and start a war with the Klingon Empire. See the episode “Errand of Mercy”. The Klingon Neutral Zone was set up by one of those many omnipotent races Kirk constantly ran into that refused to let the Klingons and the Federation go to war. They set up the Neutral Zone. They enforced this Neutral Zone with the threat of destroying both fleets with a snap of their fingers. If you have one, you’d be an idiot to start the other.
Second. Khan crying is really pathetic. Really pathetic. And he has his back turned to Kirk when he does, so it’s not even for acting purposes. This guy conquered one quarter of the world and he’s crying? Where is the psychotic bastard we loved who would choke out Melville as he watched his enemies die, “For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee!” Or quote Milton to make a point. Hiring a more than competent British actor then making Khan illiterate compared to his original version makes no sense. Oh, speaking of hiring the pasty British actor…did anyone remember Khan was originally referred to as a Sikh? Could we have at least given him a tan? (For that matter, haven’t makeup and special effects reached the point where we could actually make people look like they will 300 years from now, where there will likely be very few people of clear ethnic heritage, with the majority a mix of a little of everything, probably naturally tanned skin on everyone. Or do liberals of Hollywood not like to think about things like that?) Also I’m really glad the whole crew is a bunch of idiots…in the original series it took them half an hour to figure out Khan is the tyrant who conquered a quarter of the planet a couple hundred years ago…this bunch of geniuses, however, knows as much about history as they do about anything else.
Third. Spock makes no sense. None. Either he’s kind of emotional or he’s not. Don’t keep playing this he’s emotional or logical as the plot needs. Characters should drive plot not the other way around.
Fourth. Redoing the death scene from Wrath of Khan was just cheap. If the best you can do for writing is just reuse scenes with the roles reversed, then don’t.
Fifth. The final battle takes place over Earth. I know Khan killed all the captains and first officers of the six or seven ships in the sector (seems low) but there weren’t second officers available to come to Kirk’s rescue. No, no. In Starfleet if the captain and first officer are dead we apparently scuttle the ship immediately and do nothing with it. WTF? Didn’t we promote a cadet to Captain in the last film…was there no one to put in charge? Oh did you notice it took hours to warp to the Klingon Empire from Earth, but mere seconds to get back. Yeah I didn’t get that either.
Sixth. Khan blood is magic! And only Khan’s blood. McCoy has 72 supermen to choose from, but only Khan’s blood contains the magical properties necessary to bring the dead back to life. And I’m just going to assume the writers were too dumb to realize the Eucharist overtones to ‘his blood will bring everlasting life’ and what that would mean about Khan. Or that he let himself be beaten to save his people. Or that technically, rising from cryosleep is kind of like rising from the dead. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt here that the writers were just too stupid to realize all the parallels they were making…and not trying to say someone else was evil.
Seventh. Does anyone remember Kirk beating Khan to unconsciousness in “Space Seed”? I do. So either Khan is so much cooler in this version (of course his blood is magic here)….or Kirk is so much more pathetic (also a very likely possibility). Oh and while the Vulcan Nerve Pinch used to work on the supermen (see “Space Seed”) it suddenly doesn’t work on Khan (must be the newly acquired magic blood).
Eight. Kirk slept with Christine Chapel? No. No, no, no, no, no. Chapel and Spock. Not Uhura and Spock.
Nine. What’s with the hats? Those might look good with Navy Whites (although they look more like the oversized Soviet uniform model)…they look silly in Starfleet.
Final analysis. This movie is terrible on Every Single Level. I haven’t even covered half of the problems with it. Do not waste your money on it.